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(BOOTLEG SALUTES)

In pyrotechnics a salute is a device primarily designed to make a loud report (bang), and may or may not have a visual effect. Most salutes will also have a very bright flash and are made from many different formulas depending on manufacturer and desired effect. They may have aluminum, antimony, titanium and other metals added for sparks or flash effects. The salute may be fired on the ground (ground salute) or launched from a mortar as a shell (aerial salute). Salutes are one of the more dangerous type fireworks. The "guns" (a.k.a. mortar tubes) used to launch the aerial salutes in a commercial fireworks display vary from 1.75 inch diameter up to 5 inch diameter. Most of the "salutes" are made with flash powder. The burning of flash powder is dependant on the pressure, unlike black powder which burns at roughly the same rate whether contained or not. As mentioned above, what constitutes flash powder varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The amount of flash powder contained in any salute can vary widely according to both physical size, number of individual charges as well as by manufacturer. Up to 1% of fumed silica is sometimes added to flash powder as an anti-caking agent.

Comparison to Explosives[edit]

Though both news reporters and black-market dealers often make comparisons between the power of salutes and a particular quantity of dynamite ("1/4 stick" or "as powerful as a fourth of a stick of dynamite"), such comparisons are not grounded in reality. For reference, a typical stick of dynamite contains over 10 times more explosive material than an M-80 (35 grams of nitroglycerin versus 3 grams, typically of chlorate/sulfur powder). Nitroglycerin explodes with a shockwave faster than the speed of sound in nitroglycerine itself, whereas the powders used in various salutes deflagrate (burn) at a slower rate and below the speed of sound in the media itself. This prevents the formation of a detonation wave and is the difference between High Explosive and Low Explosive.

Dynamite (and other high explosives) undergo detonation whereas flash powder in any quantity undergoes deflagration. Because flash salutes do not generate a detonation (shock) wave, they have a very low brisance and they do not exhibit the Munroe effect. For this reason, salutes are unsatisfactory for initiating the detonation of blasting agents.

Cherry Bomb[edit]

Cherry Bombs predating 1966 (Authentic)
  • 1/2" to 5/8"Diameter
  • 5/8"diameter
  • 3/4" - 1"Circumference
  • 500 milligrams - 1 Gram of Perchlorate/Sulfur/Antimony Sulfide "Flash Powder"
  • Color: Colors are variable throughout the industry but most common are different variations of red such as Dark Red, Magenta, Maroon or Pink

Also known as kraft salutes, these are made of paper cup sets, coated with several layers of sawdust and animal hide glue (or sodium silicate), often finished with a reddish dye (Sudan Red).[1] The process of coating kraft salute casings in order to make them round is called panning. The glued casings are tumbled with sawdust while sodium silicate solution is slowly added to the pan. Historically, the core contained a Perchlorate, Sulfur, and Antimony Sulfide mixture. Some manufacturers added Aluminum and/or Manganese Dioxide to this mixture. "KENT FIREWORKS" would make all their cherry bombs with a small red or green star.

Bootleg versions may vary in sizes but usually hold up to about the same amount of flash, commonly 70/30 Potassium Perchlorate/Dark Aluminum.

Bodily harm: Burns, finger loss, deafness or blindness

Silver Salute / Ash Can[edit]

Silver Salute / Ash Cans predating 1966 (Authentic)
Silver Salute / Ash Cans (BOOTLEG)
  • 1-1/2" Long
  • 1/2" Bore
  • 10/16" Outside diameter
  • 1.5 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: Silver with "DO NOT HOLD IN HAND" label

These particular salutes were silver, 1-1/2" long and a 1/2" in diameter. Around the outside of the tube was printed "DO NOT HOLD IN HAND" in small capital letters in a continuous spiral. Each tube was covered with a dozen warning labels. The ends of the tubes were plugged with sodium silicate/calcium carbonate cement or paper end plugs. The fuses were of excellent quality and were set in the tube with a small dab of glue so that the salutes never leaked. Careful dissection of a live specimen revealed that it was filled half full with dark colored flash. Years later examination under microscope determined the flash powder consisted of potassium perchlorate and dark aluminum flake, sometimes containing up to 1% of fumed silica (Cab-o-sil) as an anti-caking agent.


WARNINGS Bodily harm: Burns, finger loss, deafness or blindness















-

M-80[edit]

M-80 Salutes (BOOTLEG)
  • 1-1/2" Long
  • 9/16" Bore
  • 11/16" Outside diameter
  • 2.5 Grams of 70/30 Flash Powder
  • Color: Glossy Red

or

  • 1-1/2" Long
  • 5/8" Bore
  • 3/4" Outside diameter
  • 3 Grams of 70/30 Flash Powder
  • Color: Flat Red

No photo of authentic M-80's Available

(MILITARY M-80 VS CIVILIAN M-80) Originally the M-80 was a military training device designed to simulate small arms fire in basic training. The "M-80's" designation was a military product identification code number. The U.S. government contracted with several fireworks makers to produce these hefty salutes. Military issue M-80's are made from a plain brown craft paper tube 1-1/2" long and 9/16" diameter, fitted with a thick stiff, green Visco fuse and packaged in boxes of 50. Each Salute bears the words "M-80 Firecracker" and the date of manufacture "4-64". Careful dissection reveals that each firecracker is double plugged at each end with a paper end plug and disk cap. Military M-80's packed a full load of 80 grains which is equivalent to 5.2 GRAMS of flash powder. "M" for Military and "80" for 80 grains. These differ from most flash salutes, which function optimally with some airspace and loose powder. Perhaps this was done because of some government specification that had little to do with performance or perhaps they knew something others did not.

From a standpoint of design, these are odd firecrackers. After World War II THE M-80 was marketed as a fireworks item for civilian use. The first ones on the market were war surplus, the genuine articles. When some of the fireworks dealers saw how well they were received by the public, they began making civilian copies. These copies were sold by the millions in the 1950s and 1960s. The usual civilian M-80 had a red tube of the original dimensions, bearing the words "M-80 FIRECRACKER DO NOT HOLD IN HAND" printed on the outside in bold letters.

Military Flash Composition:

FORMULA

  • Potassium Perchlorate KCLO
    4
    64%
  • Bright Pyro Aluminum Al 22.5%
  • Sulfur S 10%
  • Antimony Sulfide Sb
    2
    S
    3
    3.5%

Civilian Flash Composition:

FORMULA

  • Potassium Perchlorate KCLO
    4
    70%
  • Dark Pyro Aluminum Al 30%
  • Sometimes up to 1% fumed silica

Bootleg M-80's typically carry 2.5 to 3 GRAMS of (KCLO4/Al Ratio 70/30) but can reach up to 5.2 grams for an authentic military style M-80 depending on the manufacturer. In Mexico, these salutes are called "Barrenos". Everything legally sold in the U.S. under the name "M-80, M-98, M-90, M-600" after 1966 have no where near the same power as the originals.

WARNINGS Bodily harm: Burns, finger loss, deafness or blindness

Double M-80 / Super M-80[edit]

This is a ground salute that is double the power of an M-80 hence the name Double M-80 or Super M-80. Meant to contain 6 grams of pyrotechnic flash (BOOTLEG).
  • 3" Long
  • 9/16" Bore
  • 11/16" Outside Diameter
  • 6 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: Glossy Red

Essentially 2 into 1 as the name implies.

Bodily harm: Burns, finger loss, deafness or blindness






-

M-100[edit]

M-100 Salutes (BOOTLEG)
  • 2" Long
  • 3/4" Bore
  • 1" Outside diameter
  • 10 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: RWB, Kraft or Red

Popularly referred to as the "M-1000" in California but is still referred to as "M-100" everywhere else in the United States. Not to be confused with "M-1000 / Full Stick". For example see: "Full Stick / M-1000" at the bottom of the page. "California M-1000's" are more popular than the M-80 due to their water resistant quality, power & pocket size. The top plug and fuse are essentially made in the same step. See Photo to the right>. End Plugs can range from a variety of materials but most common are "Fast Set Pack" HOT MELT. This high quality hot melt holds a lot stronger when used to hold in the pressure from slower burning flash powder formulas. Ground salutes with slow burning flash are notorious for spitting out end plugs which is an amateur malfunction at best.

Slower flash powders used for:

  • Items bigger than M-80's
  • Burst charge for "Black Powder Star Shells"
  • Primary ingredient in Star Shells for a Color / Salute effect

Burst Charge Flash is notorious for having a much BIGGER BOOM than standard flash even in small quantities. Users should exercise caution for solid end plugs can turn into flying projectiles when using any kind of flash powder. Setting the salute down in an upright position before lighting decreases risk of projectile injury. "NEVER LIGHT IN HAND. LAY UPRIGHT ON FLAT SURFACE. LIGHT FUSE. GET AWAY."

Bodily harm: hand loss, blindness, deafness, face burns, concussion, arm burns and possible death.

Block Buster[edit]

Small Block Buster (BOOTLEG)

Small

  • 2" Long
  • 3/4" Bore
  • 1" Outside diameter
  • 10 Grams of Flash Powder
  • 1 Gram of Titanium Flakes
  • Color: Red

or

Large

  • 2-1/2" Long
  • 1" Bore
  • 1-1/4" Outside diameter
  • 15 Grams of Flash Powder
  • 2 Grams of Titanium Flakes
  • Color: Red

Block Busters are known for having a very unique and impressive effect> a brilliant splash of white sparks. Burn time for this effect is no longer than half a second. The intensity of the explosion> radius of titanium shower and speed at which sparks fly will vary depending on the quantity and quality of the flash powder. Aluminum Powder type and density plays the biggest role in how sharp or deep a report will be. These salutes are very popular on the East Coast United States and are almost never sold anywhere else.

Bodily harm: arm loss, blindness, deafness, face burns, concussion, arm burns and possible death.

Quarter Stick / M-250[edit]

Quarter Sticks (BOOTLEG))
Quarter Sticks (BOOTLEG)
  • 2-1/2" Long
  • 1" Bore
  • 1-1/4" Outside diameter
  • 15-20 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: RWB, Red or Kraft

or

  • 3-1/2" long
  • 3/4" Bore
  • 1" Outside diameter
  • 15-20 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: RWB or Silver

A very popular large salute that may resemble dynamite but no where near as powerful; it's not even close. Holds the same amount of grams as a large Block Buster but without titanium.

Bodily harm: arm loss, blindness, deafness, face burns, concussion, arm burns and possible death.













-

Half Stick[edit]

Half Stick (BOOTLEG)
  • 4" Long
  • 1" Bore
  • 1-1/4" Outside diameter
  • 30 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: Kraft

or

  • 3-1/2" Long
  • 1" Bore
  • 1-1/4" Outside diameter
  • 30 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: RWB

or

  • 6" Long
  • 3/4" Bore
  • 1" Outside diameter
  • 30 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: RWB

The more flash powder, the bigger the boom right? Yes and no! Remember, flash compositions can vary from one manufacturer to another so it all depends on:

  • ratio of elements combined to make flash powder
  • how well the elements are mixed together
  • the chemical density or most important> what type of aluminum and its density
  • air space

(FINE DARK ALUMINUM) based flash compositions are not an issue when it comes to needing heavy confinement because fine dark aluminum will increase the velocity of the explosion to such a degree that the tube DOESN'T require thick solid end plugs with heavy bonding materials in order to have proper combustion. This is why you will notice that some salutes have very thin paper end plugs and always manage to blow up leaving no trace of it self behind.

  • 70/30 Flash is the pyrotechnic industry standard but some people may use 60/40 or 50/50
  • Some may prefer 800 Mesh Dark Aluminum while some may prefer 2 Micron Aluminum which works best for M-80's and smaller items
  • Some prefer "325-mesh Bright Flake Aluminum" in anything bigger than an M-80 to cut down costs and increase the BoOOM factor.

325-mesh is the typical industry standard for slow burning flash which has also been categorized as a "primary burst charge", "additive" or black powder "accelerator". The audible difference in sound from heavy bright al flash to fine dark al flash is like night and day.

  • Some people might add 20% sulfur to their 70/30 KCIO4/Al flash mix if they don't have bright al
  • Some may use 20% saw dust to their 70/30 KCIO4/Al if they have neither

All will slow down the burn is the point of the matter which will totally change the sonic character of the explosion.

SULFUR WARNING One notable thing about sulfur that people love is the mushroom cloud. Only issue with sulfur is that when added to "Potassium Chlorate" & Aluminum becomes very unstable and can in fact be fatal. The alternative to this is to use "Potassium Perchlorate" not "Potassium Chlorate".

Air Space Some manufacturers will fill their salutes all the way while others may leave 25% to 33% and even 50% air space. Filling the tube all the way defeats the purpose of flash powder but not every manufacturer is educated on the matter.

Bodily harm: arm loss, blindness, deafness, face burns, concussion, arm burns and possible death.

Full Stick / M-1000's[edit]

FULL STICK (BOOTLEG)
FULL STICK (BOOTLEG)
  • 6" Long
  • 1-1/4" Bore
  • 1-7/16" Outside diameter
  • 50-100 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: RWB

or

  • 3" Long
  • 2-1/4" Bore
  • 2-3/4" O.D.
  • 50-100 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: Kraft

or

  • 4-1/2" Long
  • 2" Bore
  • 2-1/4" O.D.
  • 50-100 Grams of Flash Powder
  • Color: Varies

Bodily harm: Death within close proximity












-

(Class B) Salutes Mortar / Shells[edit]

(Class B) 2 Inch Titanium Salutes
  • As opposed to federally banned salutes, these items are legally available only to licensed pyrotechnicians for use in professional fireworks displays.
  • Available in sizes ranging from 1.75" to 5" diameter. Although only available to licensed pyrotechnicians, products have found their way into the black market. Most common are the DS1 & 3 INCH SALUTE SHELLS
  • In Italy cylinder shaped Salute shells are very common

References[edit]

  1. ^ T. Davis, The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives, Angriff Press, 1972. ISBN 0-913022-00-4

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salute_(pyrotechnics) — Please support Wikipedia.
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